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Timberwolves replace Ryan Saunders with Chris Finch as new head coach

The 51-year-old most recently served as assistant to Raptors head coach Nick Nurse in Toronto.

Assistant Coach Chris Finch of the Denver Nuggets talks during a coaches clinic as part of 2017 NBA London Global Games at the Citysport on January 9, 2017 in London, England. Photo by Randy Belice/NBAE via Getty Images

The Minnesota Timberwolves have fired Ryan Saunders and replaced him with Chris Finch as head coach on Monday morning. The team officially announced the hiring of Finch, who has over 24 years of experience coaching in the NBA and internationally. The Timberwolves fired Saunders after going 7-24, the worst record in the League. Minnesota had high expectations after trading for D’Angelo Russell last season and drafting Anthony Edwards No. 1 overall in the 2020 NBA Draft.

“I am excited to announce Chris Finch as our next head coach,” Timberwolves President Gersson Rosas said in a press release. “Chris brings a wealth of basketball experience from his time in the NBA, G League and Internationally. He is one of the most creative basketball minds in the NBA, has success maximizing players, and I am excited to see him bring our team to the next level and beyond.”

Saunders likely got a raw deal by being replaced but it was clear that the team was still not heading in the right direction. All-Star center Karl-Anthony Towns has missed most of the season with a wrist injury and recovering from Covid-19. Russell is the latest to go down, needing arthroscopic knee surgery which will hold him out another few weeks. Edwards has been starting as a rookie for the most part. The team also lacks depth in the front court, so missing KAT hasn’t been ideal. Still, the team figured a change was needed and now a veteran coach in Finch will come in.

Finch started coaching back in 1997, when he was hired as head coach of the Sheffield Sharks over in England. He also coached in Germany and Belgium before heading back to the United States to coach in the D-League (now the G-League). Finch was head coach of the Rio Grande Valley Vipers from 2009-2011 before making the jump to the NBA as an assistant for the Houston Rockets.

From there, Finch would eventually become associate coach of the Rockets in 2014, considered one of the top offensive minds in the NBA. He has coached All-Stars James Harden, Anthony Davis, Nikola Jokic, DeMarcus Cousins and Kyle Lowry, plus young talent in Zion Williamson.

“I would like to thank Glen Taylor and Gersson Rosas for this incredible opportunity to be the head coach of the Minnesota Timberwolves,” Finch said. “I look forward to working hand and hand with Gersson to build and lead a team that Timberwolves fans will be proud of. We have excellent pieces in place and I can’t wait to get to work.”